Results: Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool FC, Everton 0-0 Chelsea, Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Watford, Manchester City 4-0 AFC Bournemouth, Southampton 1-1 Huddersfield Town, Stoke City 3-1 West Bromwich Albion, Swansea City 1-1 Crystal Palace, West Ham United 2-3 Newcastle United, Burnley 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City 2-2 Manchester United
The final weekend of Premier League action before Christmas 2017 certainly didn’t disappoint. It started with one of the matches of the season. Goals were almost a certain guarantee as Arsenal and Liverpool FC went head-to-head at The Emirates Stadium to kick-start the weekend.
The Sky Sports Friday Night Football audience were treated to an entertaining spectacle full of great attacking football and some costly mistakes by both goalkeepers. Liverpool dominated the first half and deservedly led at half-time through Philippe Coutinho’s header. Mohamed Salah extended the advantage shortly after half-time before Arsenal burst into life with three goals in a devastating six-minute spell. Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil both scored either side of a Granit Xhaka long-distance shot which Simon Mignolet completely misjudged the flight of. Petr Cech also made a critical error, parrying Roberto Firmino’s strike into his own net with 20 minutes left to play. This meant the match ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw, keeping the Reds one point clear of the Gunners in the table.
Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the table to 13 points after recording their 17th successive victory, thumping AFC Bournemouth 4-0 at The Etihad Stadium. Sergio Aguero added another two goals to his growing collection and it meant Manchester City became the first team in Premier League history to score 100 goals in the calendar year. With back-to-back 4-0 losses, Eddie Howe’s Cherries would spend Christmas Day in the bottom three.
Second-placed Manchester United lost further ground after conceding a late equaliser to Harry Maguire and Leicester City. In an exciting contest at The King Power Stadium, Riyad Mahrez played through Jamie Vardy to score his 50th Premier League goal before a Juan Mata brace either side of half-time put the Red Devils into a 2-1 lead. Daniel Amartey received his marching orders for two yellow cards but 10-man Leicester never gave up and Maguire’s intervention in the fourth minute of stoppage-time kept their excellent run going. Claude Puel had lost just two of his 10 matches’ in-charge as Foxes boss.
Tottenham Hotspur moved from seventh into fifth spot after Harry Kane scored a hat-trick in Spurs’ 3-0 victory at Turf Moor over Burnley. Kane’s treble saw him equal Alan Shearer’s long-standing record of most goals in a Premier League calendar year. He would have one more chance to break the record against Southampton on Boxing Day.
The Saints’ own form was questionable to say the least. Virgil van Dijk was now completely out-of-favour with manager Mauricio Pellegrino and his side now went six games without a win after drawing 1-1 at home to Huddersfield Town. Charlie Austin scored his fifth goal in seven matches but was later charged by the FA with violent conduct and limped off injured too. He would be out of action for several months.
It was Swansea City who would spend Christmas Day bottom of the table, despite getting a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace. It was the first meeting at The Liberty Stadium between the teams since the previous season’s encounter which ended 5-4 to Swansea. Unsurprisingly, this fixture lacked the excitement of the 2016-2017 match but Jordan Ayew’s equaliser was a positive tonic for interim boss Leon Britton, who was filling in after Paul Clement’s dismissal earlier in the week. West Bromwich Albion completed the bottom three after a 3-1 defeat to Stoke City. Alan Pardew was still winless five games into his reign as Baggies boss.
What else happened in December 2017?
- One of Theresa May’s closest allies, Damian Green, resigns from the government after an investigation finds he made “inaccurate and misleading” statements regarding pornography on a computer in his Commons office.
- The United States officially recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
- Following an investigation into state-sponsored doping, Russia is banned from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics by the IOC.
- For $66 billion, The Walt Disney Company announces that it will acquire most of 21st Century Fox, including the 20th Century Fox film studio.
- Coventry is named as the UK City of Culture for the year 2021.
- Made in Chelsea star Georgia Toffolo beats Hollyoaks actor Jamie Lomas to win the 17th series of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!
- Sir Mo Farah is the surprising winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2017.